Conduct your webinar or online class effectively
Posted by Greten on 30 Dec 2022 under Tips
Online learning has become an increasingly popular way for students to access education, but it can be challenging to maintain student engagement in a virtual classroom or webinar.
Webinar is the term associated with web-based seminars conducted for upskilling or additional learning and is usually attended by adults. Online class is the term that teachers use in K to 12 settings, especially in the context of continuing education during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual classroom is an elearning modality that uses the internet to simulate the traditional classroom lecture. Webinars and online classes are both virtual classrooms, and this article will use these three terms interchangeably.
This article will cover strategies for making a webinar, online class, or virtual classroom more engaging, including multimedia use, encouraging interaction, staying organized, and using visual aids. By implementing these techniques, trainers, lecturers, and instructional designers can create a more interactive and engaging learning experience for their students.
Prepare the facilitator's place
Prepare a place conducive to facilitating an online class. You must have a dedicated space to conduct a virtual classroom, be it your office, a room in your house, or a classroom when there is no face-to-face class, as it can help create a professional and focused environment for you and your learners. Here are some suggestions for creating a suitable environment for an online class.
Consider lighting and background. Choose a well-lit area with a neutral background. Avoid sitting in front of a window or with your back to a window, as this can create harsh shadows or make it difficult for learners to see your face.
Check your equipment. Make sure you have a reliable computer, microphone, and webcam. Test your equipment before the class to ensure that everything is working properly. Aside from equipment, ensure that you have a stable internet connection. Your room should not shield from wi-fi signals. If it does, ensure the availability of a LAN cable and a small gap through which it can pass through, or the wi-fi router is within the room. It can distract learners if their lecturer or facilitator keeps getting disconnected.
Sit on a comfortable chair and ensure a good posture during the class. The comfort will help you stay focused and energized throughout the session.
Minimize noise and distractions. Make sure your room or dedicated space is a quiet, distraction-free environment. Use sound-absorbing curtains to prevent the sounds of animals or vehicles from entering your room, or at least minimize them.
Set the tone for your online class
Start with an engaging introduction. Then, introduce the topic and explain its importance and relevance to your learners to grab their attention and keep them engaged throughout the session. Clearly state the purpose of the class. Explain its goals and objectives to give your learners a clear understanding of what they will be learning and its importance. You can also provide a brief overview of the main points you will cover in the class to give your learners a roadmap for the session and help them stay focused.
Try to grab your learners' attention from the beginning by using an interesting fact, a relevant anecdote, or a thought-provoking question. This hook can help engage your learners and keep them interested throughout the session.
Record your virtual class. Video conferencing application usually comes with a function that lets you record the online class. As a matter of etiquette, inform your learners that the session is being recorded. Some video conferencing applications automatically send a notification when you begin recording; in some places, this is a legal requirement. The purpose of recording a virtual classroom is so that the learners can use it to review later, and the absentee students can still learn from it. You can also use it to improve your following classes or webinars.
Use visual aids
Visual aids can significantly enhance your learners' virtual classroom learning experience. Visual aids, such as slides, charts, and diagrams, can help illustrate your points and make your presentation more engaging.
Use relevant and high-quality images. Choose high-quality and appropriate images for your topic. Avoid using low-resolution or blurry images, as they can distract your lesson.
Keep your presentation simple. Avoid crowding your slides with too much text or too many images. Instead, use fewer concise visuals focusing on the key points you want to convey. If you would write a piece of information on a board in a traditional classroom, consider including it on a slide in your online class. On the other hand, if typically communicate something verbally in a face-to-face class, you should also convey it orally in a virtual classroom setting.
Use multimedia to break up the monotony
Incorporating different media types, such as videos, audio clips, and animations can help break up the monotony of a long lecture and keep your audience interested.
Use multimedia sparingly. Use them only if it genuinely helps in the learning process. For example, if you're discussing the sound of animals, it's better to play a sound clip of a lion's roar than make a poor impersonation of one.
In playing audio or multimedia, ensure that your web conferencing application can read your system audio (the audio coming from your computer) before you begin your class if you're planning to play an audio, video, or multimedia. Some web conferencing applications, such as Microsoft Teams, require you first to leave your class and configure it to accept system audio before you can rejoin and play any sound from the computer.
If you use multimedia too frequently in your webinar, it can no longer break the monotony because it becomes the monotony. On the other hand, if your lesson uses too much multimedia, you can make learning more efficient by setting it up as an asynchronous elearning instead of a webinar or online class.
Encourage interaction among the learners
It is a crucial strategy for maintaining learner engagement in an online class. One of the biggest online teaching challenges is maintaining learner engagement, especially if you are speaking to a large group.
Ask open-ended questions. Encourage learners to think critically and share their ideas by asking open-ended questions requiring more than just a simple yes or no answer.
Invite learners to share their experiences and insights. Encourage learners to share their own experiences and insights on the topic being discussed. Learning is more efficient and tends to stick to long-term memory if connected to the learner's experience.
Some learners might be uncomfortable sharing in a large group. If the number of learners is too large and if time permits, facilitate small group discussions. Divide your learners into smaller groups and encourage them to discuss the material or work on a project together. Discussions create a sense of community and foster deeper learning.
By encouraging interaction among learners, you can create a more engaging and interactive online learning environment that keeps your learners engaged and motivated to learn.
Keep your online class concise
Try to keep your virtual classroom as concise as possible. Long lectures can be tedious, so try to get to the point and avoid rambling.
Identify the key points you want to cover and focus on those. Avoid going off on tangents or covering material not relevant to your learners' needs. Instead, use an outline to help you stay on track and promptly cover all the necessary material.
Avoid using long, complex sentences or jargon that may be difficult for your learners to understand. Instead, use clear and concise language to get your points across effectively.
Shield your webinar for zoom bombing
Video conference bombing, commonly known as Zoom bombing, or the unauthorized disruption of a meeting, webinar, or online class by an outsider, is a serious problem for webinars. Despite the name, other web conference applications such as Microsoft Teams and Google Meet can also fall victim to this disruption.
You have several measures to protect your online class from video conference bombing. First, set a strong and unique password for your webinar and share it only with trusted attendees. Avoid using easily guessable passwords, such as "12345" or any word found in the dictionary. Also, set up your video conference to require all attendees to enter a password before joining.
Second, enable the waiting room. Use the waiting room function to screen attendees before they join and prevent unauthorized individuals from entering.
Third, mute the learners upon entry. Enable this setting to automatically mute all attendees upon joining the webinar. This setting protects your virtual class not only from video conference bombing. It also helps reduce background noise and prevent disruptions from learners unaware that their microphone is on while some background noise happens in their venue.
Protecting your webinar from zoom bombing helps ensure a smooth and uninterrupted session. An earlier entry covers video conference bombing in detail.
Assign post-learning activities
The learning process does not necessarily end with the webinar. Learners need to further process and reflect on what they learned. Post-learning activities can help you facilitate this process. Some of these activities are as follows:
- Encourage your learners to complete an assignment or project related to the material covered in the class
- Invite your learners to participate in a discussion forum or online community related to the topic of the class
- For webinars, ask your learners to follow you on social media or sign up for a newsletter to stay updated on future classes or events
- Encourage your learners to reach out to you with any questions or concerns about the material covered in the class
These activities will help keep them engaged and encourage them to stay connected with you after the session.
To prepare for an effective virtual classroom, you must choose a comfortable and quiet location with a stable internet connection. To engage students, start with an introduction that sets the tone and relevance of the topic, and use media such as videos, images, and audio clips to illustrate points.
Encourage interaction by asking questions and inviting students to share their own experiences and insights. To maintain student engagement, keep the online class concise and end with instructions for post-learning activities. It is also essential to shield your webinar from zoom bombing.
- Andriotis N. (2018) "How To Improve Your Online Training Webinars In 5 Easy Steps", elearning Industry, retrieved 30 December 2020.
- O’Shaughnessy A. (2020) "Tips to Create a Warmer, More Engaging Online Classroom", Edutopia, retrieved 30 December 2020.
- Svernlöv O. (2020) "5 tips to make your webinars more engaging", Mentimeter, retrieved 30 December 2020.
Last updated on 30 Dec 2022.
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